Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

The Day the Freeway Froze

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1959 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1987.

'Twas at eight-o-five a.m. on a hot old July day,
When a hiker got up on the Garfield ramp where he wasn't supposed to be.
He was hit by a Fairlane Riviera with automatic drive,
And a Chevrolet Bel Aire coupe, and he didn't stay long alive.

On the day the freeway froze in Los Angeles U.S.A.,
What an affair!
I wish I'd been there
On the day the freeway froze.

Well, the cars began to stop, but the ramps kept feeding slow,
And a little VW superbug was winged by a Dynaflow.
And some of them could have made it, going out on a ramp marked "in,"
But nobody does the like of that, because that is a cardinal sin.

Meantime down in town, at the Spring Street underpass,
A couple of trucks collided, and one had a load of gas.
It could have been a holocaust cause no one could turn about,
But the engines got up on the cloverleaf and they put that fire out.


Mr. Gorbach sat at his wheel, a hungry man was he,
And up ahead was an unmanned truck from Momma's Bakery.
He opened the drawer marked "D" and found doughnuts glazed and plain,
And he pulled real hard and drawer flew out, and the doughnuts fell like rain.


Well, the people jumped around, and the doughnuts soon were gone,
And Stanley Hackett he had ten, but coffee he had none.
Then somebody found a truck that was full of cows and steers,
And he opened the doors, and the cattle strolled among the lanes and piers.


A Bekins van was stalled, and some ladies worked amain,
And they set themselves up in housekeeping in the Harbor outbound lane,
And a truckload of brassieres was very quickly gone,
When they all cried "Viva Havana!" and tied the arm bands on.


The greatest find of all was a wagonload of rum.
It was all dealt out with a generous hand to whoever wanted some.
And a couple of guys they ran along with car tops for their track,
Wearing "Save the Bay" sandwich boards which they carried front and back.


It was seven hours, they say, till the jam began to go.
The last lost car was towed away after eighty hours or so.
Three thousand ice cream bars were sold to the sound of the auto horn,
Twenty three people died that day, and three little babes were born.


These details can be found in City police reports,
In interviews in the Daily News and TV newsreel shorts.
And all I do is tell to you the facts as they arose
In the city of Los Angeles the day the freeway froze.

Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- The Muse of Parker Street
---- The Malvina Reynolds Songbook

Other place(s) where the music to this song appears:
---- Jim Morse and Nancy Mathews: The Sierra Club Survival Songbook (San Francisco and New York: The Sierra Club, 1971)

Malvina Reynolds recording(s) on which this song is performed:
---- Another County Heard From
---- Malvina

Recordings by other artists on which this song is performed:
---- The Other Singers: Other Singers Sing Other Songs for Other People (Horizon WP 1622, 1963)

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